The ancient fossil discovered in China resembles this archaeopteryx fossil from the Late Jurassic Period (around 150 million years ago), found in the mid-1800s in what is now southern Germany.
Scientists believe that the dinosaur lived during the end of the Jurassic period, which lasted from 208 to 144 million years ago. The fossil find contributes to a scientific theory that some dinosaurs evolved into birds.
Scientists studying the fossil believe that this dinosaur was closely related to the dinosaurs that were the first to be able to fly. They do not know whether the dinosaur was able to fly, but they believe it may have had some flying or gliding abilities. The dinosaur was a small one. It measured only 13 inches from head to tail and weighed just a quarter of a pound. The dinosaur’s body and forelimbs were covered in feathers and it walked on two legs.
The first known bird—called the Archaeopteryx—lived about 150 million years ago. The newly discovered dinosaur—called Anchiornis huxleyi—appears to be a more primitive, early link to that first bird. Scientists hope that the new discovery will help them learn how some dinosaurs evolved into birds, developing feathers, wings, and flight.
- Map of China
Map of China from the CIA Factbook. Includes background and facts about the country.
(Source: CIA, December 18, 2008)
- New Feathered Dinosaur Found; Adds to Bird-Dino Theory
Story from National Geographic covers the discovery of the fossil, and what it means for the theory that birds are evolved from dinosaurs.
(Source: National Geographic, January 16, 2009)
- Scientists Find a Missing Link
Popular Science article that discusses the discoveries made by paleontologists in China over the past few years, and how they contribute to theories about bird evolution.
(Source: Popular Science, January 19, 2009)